CameroonAfrican Nations CupVS
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Gambia have had an excellent AFCON campaign so far, but next up is their toughest test yet as they face hosts Cameroon in Douala.
Cameroon were certainly the most impressive side during the group stages, racking up plenty of goals on their way to topping Group A, but they made hard work of a vastly under-strength Comoros side in their last 16 clash.
Gambia, on the other hand, deservedly beat Guinea with a goal of real quality from Musa Barrow, so while this will be tough for the Gambians, Cameroon know they aren’t in for an easy night.
Cameroon lit up the early stages of AFCON with some excellent displays, but there’s perhaps the feeling that their momentum has been checked somewhat in recent days.
The Indomitable Lions really should’ve beaten Cape Verde in their final group game, but a 1-1 draw was followed by a 2-1 victory over Comoros that should’ve been long over by the time the minnows got themselves in contention.
And Gambia have been quietly going about their business in efficient fashion. They’ve only conceded one goal in four matches so far, with three of them ending in 1-0 victories.
We think they have the robust defence required to frustrate the hosts, and with three of the eight last-16 clashes going the distance, we think there’s plenty of value in this one going all the way too. So, our selection here is Gambia or Draw in 90 minutes in the Double Chance market, at odds of 11/8.
Host nations have a penchant for doing well at AFCON, so it’s no surprise that Cameroon have thrived on that status, scoring nine goals in their four games to date.
But make no mistake about it, this is a far from imperious side and one that does have weaknesses. Gambia are no world beaters, but Cameroon have had far stronger squads in years gone by, with the current crop lacking in big-name stars.
They should have a fully fit squad to choose from, which includes captain and leading marksman Vincent Aboubakar, who has scored six goals at the tournament already and is in some of the best form of his career.
But aside from the 30-year-old, there isn’t a great deal to write home about. If Gambia can stop the Cameroon skipper, they’re halfway towards springing a surprise.
Not many people had Gambia down as dark horses for the AFCON title, but if they can overcome Cameroon this weekend, then they’ve got a real chance of going all the way.
This is a squad that comprises mainly of players plying their trade in some of Europe’s minor leagues – including a couple of players from English football’s League Two – but in Bologna man Musa Barrow they have a genuine matchwinner.
And that was in full view in their last-16 meeting with Guinea, in which the 24-year-old took the ball in a tight space and in one touch had released himself into a shooting position, before coolly slotting home to seal his country’s place in the last eight.
He will need to be in top form if they are to have any chance of winning this, but even if he isn’t, he’s got a defensive unit behind him that is unmatched amongst its continental peers, having conceded only one goal during the entire tournament.
These two have very little in the way of history, with only two meetings so far.
Both games were part of African Cup of Nations qualifying in 2015 and 2016, with Cameroon winning 1-0 and 2-0 respectively.
This huge AFCON clash will take place at the Japoma Stadium in Douala, in south-west Cameroon.
It will be somewhat new surroundings for both sides, with Cameroon playing all of their games in the country’s capital, Yaounde, while Gambia have spent the majority of their campaign in Limbe.
Regardless, Cameroon will still be backed by a vociferous and partisan home crowd, which could give them the vital edge in what will be a closely fought quarter final.
At around 6/1 Gambia certainly look a touch overpriced, especially when you consider the form they’re in, heading into the fixture.
Cameroon have largely been very good in this campaign, but they haven’t faced much in the way of tests so far, which always makes it difficult to step things up when met with a stern defence like Gambia’s.
If the visitors can sit in and frustrate, then they have every chance. The longer this match remains 0-0, the more it plays into Gambian hands, as a nervous Cameroonian crowd grows increasingly frustrated.